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Russian parliament removes age limit for soldiers

By Orowo Victoria Ojieh

Russia’s parliament approved a law on Wednesday scrapping an upper age limit for people signing up to join the army, amid heavy casualties in Ukraine.

Lawmakers in the State Duma lower house approved the bill in three readings in a single session, with the upper house, the Federation Council, giving its assent shortly after. The bill now needs only the signature of President Vladimir Putin to become law.

Presently, only Russians aged 18 to 40 and foreigners aged 18 to 30 can enrol as professional soldiers in the Russian military.

“Today, especially, we need to strengthen the armed forces and help the Ministry of Defence. Our Supreme Commander is doing everything to ensure that our armed forces win, and we need to help” state Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said.

The Russian parliament’s decision comes a day after Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu ruled out any deadline for the end of the military operation in Ukraine.

Russian forces have suffered significant losses fighting in Ukraine.

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The defence ministry said on March 25 that 1,351 Russian service personnel had been killed and 3,825 wounded since Moscow invaded Ukraine on February 24. It has not updated its casualty figures since Moscow has described the invasion as a “special military operation” aimed at “denazifying” and “demilitarising” Ukraine.

Ukrainian and Western intelligence officials have said Russia’s losses in Ukraine were significantly higher at the time, and have risen sharply since March.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu on Tuesday said Moscow “will continue the special military operation until all the objectives have been achieved,” referring to military action in Ukraine.

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